The panel discussion concluded the event. Copyright by BMK/Johanna Schmetterer.

High-level contributions at the International Congress in Salzburg

Nature and environmental protection as well as cultural heritage in the network for sustainable tourism destinations were the topics of the event on 2 June 2022 in Salzburg.

Environmental Protection and Cultural Heritage - Opportunities for Sustainable Tourism in Austria

At the international congress "Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Environment" of the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK), the potential of sustainable tourism was discussed. The focus was also on how cultural heritage in Europe can influence tourism. Leading experts from the tourism and cultural sector discussed Austria's tourism on the way to more sustainability at the Wyndham Grand Salzburg Conference Centre Hotel on 2 June 2022.

The project "Form-Arte +" ( was initiated within the framework of the EU programme Erasmus+. Under the title "Cooperation for Innovation", a new learning model based on the European cultural heritage is being tested. Environmental issues play a central role. As cultural heritage sites are also tourist attractions, the international congress "Cultural Heritage, Tourism and the Environment", which is part of this project and was moderated by Andreas Tschulik (BMK), took place on 2 June. At the beginning, Katharina Mayer Ertl (Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism) presented Austria`s plan for tourism – Plan T: "Austria's tourism thrives above all on our intact nature with its mountains and lakes, but also on the cities with their cultural highlights as well as our well-known culinary delights with high-quality regional products. In a broad stakeholder process, our Plan T - the Master Plan for Tourism - was developed about 4 years ago. This is to be the basis and guide for tourism policy in the coming years in order to establish Austria as a sustainable tourism destination," said Ertl. Oliver Csendes (Österreich Werbung) then spoke about Austrian destinations and their sustainable development.

Oliver Csendes (Austrian Tourism Information) and Katharina Mayer-Ertl (BMLRT) with Moderator Andreas Tschulik (BMK). Copyright by BMK/Johanna Schmetterer.

Oliver Csendes (Austrian Tourism Information) and Katharina Mayer-Ertl (BMLRT) with Moderator Andreas Tschulik (BMK). Copyright by BMK/Johanna Schmetterer.

European standards for sustainable tourism businesses

Christoph Eßer-Ayertey (Blue Angel and RAL) spoke about the importance of the EU Ecolabel (European Ecolabel) for accommodation providers. Sustainability is becoming more and more important for tourists when deciding on a suitable holiday destination. Barbara Diallo-Strobl (Austrian Hotel Association) reported on positive experiences of the hotel industry with sustainability programmes: "Those who save resources save money and win the sympathy of guests. The sustainable bonus for the environment is out of the question anyway. The EU project 'European Tourism Going Green 2030' is another important step towards a sustainable future for the industry," says Diallo-Strobl. Anna Steiner (BMKOES) showed how sustainability is finding its way into Austrian cultural policy: "It's about making cultural institutions climate-proof with environmentally friendly energy and resource management, ensuring social and economic security for all those working in the arts and culture sector, strengthening diversity and inclusion and using the potential of digital tools." Nieves Zubález (Grupo San Valero) presented the Spanish Way of St. James as an example of ecological and cultural factors influencing regional and cross-border tourism. Veronika Perschl (Tourismusverband Ostbayern) described how Eastern Bavaria is profiling itself as a sustainable tourism region. There is a large cultural offer and at the same time many institutions have the goal of sustainable development: "Within the framework of the EU project 'European Tourism Going Green 2030', first of all a cluster of Eastern Bavaria with sustainable tourism offers of the region is being created. In further steps, these offers will be made visible on the Going Green Map Eastern Bavaria and finally - depending on the level of certification - on the Green Travel Map Eastern Bavaria," explained Perschl.

César Romero and Nieves Zubález (Grupo San Valero) were in a good mood, as were all the participants. Copyright by BMK/Johanna Schmetterer.

More sustainable destinations - network partners and resources

The afternoon programme was introduced by Matthias Pacher (Museum Niederösterreich) with his presentation on sustainable cultural impulses for destinations. Irene Raffetseder (Naturfriends Youth Austria) presented this year's Environmental Mountain Week: "Young adults experience on the Glacier Show Trail in Rauris how display boards can guide visitors and influence their behaviour in a sustainable way. The participants can use their collected knowledge and ideas for the design of the new display boards. Afterwards, Veronika Schumann (Convention Bureau Tirol) talked about green events and how to get people to act. Kim Ressar (Naturfreunde Internationale NFI) presented sustainable leisure activities in nature. Afterwards, Romain Molitor (klimaaktiv mobil and Komobile) steered the focus on sustainable mobility in tourism. With the klimaaktiv mobil consulting and funding programme "Mobility Management Tourism and Leisure", the BMK supports tourist regions, leisure organisations and businesses in creating climate-friendly mobility offers in order to avoid emissions: "Through klimaaktiv mobil, about 1,300 projects in tourism have already been submitted, saving about 50,000 tonnes of CO2 per year," said Molitor. Stephan Heidler (Austrian Coordination Office for Energy Communities) gave an insight into the opportunities of joint energy use for tourism businesses and regions: "The electricity from the photovoltaic system on your own roof can be shared with your neighbours if you do not consume it yourself. Energy communities offer local solutions for local needs. They strengthen togetherness and offer a sustainable possibility to shape the future oneself." Finally, Robert Kalss, Lisa Streitberger and Felix Gerber (HBLW Saalfelden) presented the audio guide "The Way of St. James in Salzburg and Tyrol". This tool is aimed at pilgrims and tourists. It combines information on the most important sights with nature and environmental topics.

Sustainable tourism - challenges and opportunities

The congress ended with a panel discussion with Andreas Tschulik (BMK, Moderation), Katrin Erben (Österreich Werbung), Florian Meixner (UNESCO Austria), Kim Ressar (Naturfreunde Internationale NFI), Romain Molitor (klimaaktiv mobil und Komobile) und Renate Schaffenberger (Seeham Tourist Association)(f.l.t.r.). Among other things, the participants discussed how tourism will change in the coming years, how important it is to treat cultural sites and natural areas with respect, and how sustainable travel can be made attractive.